Riigikogu members sign international letter condemning Belarus violence

Riigikogu foreign affairs committee chair Enn Eesmaa.
Riigikogu foreign affairs committee chair Enn Eesmaa. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Leading members of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee have signed a joint open letter initiated by the House of Representatives in the United States, which condemns the ongoing political violence in Belarus and calls for the release of political prisoners. The open letter has been signed by representatives of many European countries' legislatures, as well as the European Parliament itself.

Committee chair Enn Eesmaa (Center) said the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Belarus and the politically motivated detention of members of that country's coordination council were regrettable.

"We continue to stand for the civil society of Belarus and their free will," Eesmaa said.

"Together with all who have signed the letter, we stand in strong support of the vision of Europe free and at peace, where citizens can choose their own future. We find that the people of Belarus deserve the same."

The committee say that the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, reelected for a sixth term last month in polls widely condemned as rigged, had unjustly detained opposition leader Marya Kalesnikava, and her colleagues.

Another Belarusian opposition leader, Sviatlana Tsikhanoskaya, has been in exile in Lithuania since last month.

Alexander Lukashenko was inaugurated Wednesday in an effectively private ceremony in Minsk whose timing came as a surprise to many commentators.

Estonia's foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), condemned the inauguration via a tweet, saying it went against all principles of democracy and was evidence that the Belarusian leader, who entered office in 1994, has no clear mandate from the people.

Lukashenko has also derided those members of Belarusian society opposed to his rule as prostitutes, drug addicts etc., appeared at least once in public brandishing an AK-47 automatic rifle, and appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for help in his plight.

The international open letter was also signed by the representatives of the parliaments of 27 EU and other European countries, including Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, France, Germany, the U.K., Ireland and Switzerland, as well as the European Parliament.

Foreign Affairs Committee deputy chair Marko Mihkelson (Reform) said the letter argued for carefully targeted sanctions against human rights offenders in Belarus.

Mihkelson said that: "The letter demands that the Lukashenko regime members responsible for grave human rights violations committed against Belarusians should be brought to justice. This also includes imposing of sanctions, and international coordination and cooperation, also with our transatlantic allies, is important in preparing for this."

The open letter states that: "As legislators whose nations are bound together by shared democratic, transatlantic values, we stand in strong solidarity with the Belarusian people, including those protesting and wrongly imprisoned."

"We condemn the Lukashenko regime's use of violence, intimidation, arrests, and repressive tactics against the people of Belarus, including the targeting of leading members of the Coordination Councill," it adds.

The signatories say they continue to monitor the situation and the regime's actions closely and are committed to using their legislative powers in support of the Belarusian people.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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